maradydd: (Default)
What's the deal with people using Facebook messaging in lieu of email these days? I don't understand this phenomenon, and I don't like it.

Just so everyone knows: I rarely use Facebook. My account there exists only because I needed one to do some development there for work. It might look like I use Facebook, but that's only because I have my Twitter client set up to push messages to Facebook (in point of fact, I set this up when I configured the client and promptly forgot about it, and was then surprised to get a mess of Facebook status replies). If you send me a message via Facebook, whether by scribbling on my Wall or sending a private message, assume that I either won't see it at all, or won't see it for a week or more.

I have three email addresses. One is my personal email, one is my work email, one is a dumping-ground account that gets a whole lot of mailing list traffic that I really don't have time to read. Where do you think Facebook notifications go? If you guessed the third one, hurray, you win a No-Prize. Those itty-bitty status notifications get drowned in a sea of bug reports and developer chatter, maybe three to five percent of which I actually read. Stuff gets batch-deleted every week or so, and it's easy for the only indication that a Facebook message has arrived to get lost in the noise.

"But, Meredith," I hear you say, "why not just point notifications at an address you actually check?" Simple enough: like Bartleby the Scrivener, I would prefer not to. I don't like the interface, application-layer protocols riding over other application-layer protocols is a stupid implementation choice, and if you think I trust Facebook with my private data, I've got some beautiful oceanfront property in Luxembourg I'd love to sell you. I'm twitchy enough about gmail. I expect to have control over my email, and anything I expect to have control over lives in a place where I can shred(1) it if the need arises. Data on Facebook is not data I own, plain and simple. (Neither is data on gmail, for that matter. Or LiveJournal, but I've got enough time invested in this blog and the community it's part of that leaving would be a hassle, so I censor myself, and hate myself for doing it.)

If Facebook someday decides to set up an SMTP gateway, so that I can reply directly to, then perhaps I'll change my mind. I doubt that will ever happen, though; they're heavily invested in their walled garden and don't seem too inclined to change that. (Perhaps I could have done something about it if I'd taken that job there, but I'm pursuing academic goals instead, and that door is closed. If you're reading this, Larry, I genuinely am sorry; I think I would have enjoyed working with you, but I have to follow this dream.)

This is a facet of today's Internet that worries me. On the one hand we've got Web 2.0 sites like Twitter, Flickr and Amazon publishing data and providing services via openly documented formats that I can read, use, and mash up any way I like ... and on the other, we've got Facebook and MySpace building extremely large ghettos on top of privately documented protocols that lock users into set patterns of behaviour. I don't like this. It stifles my creativity and harshes my mellow. It might be a nice-looking ghetto ... but it's still a ghetto.

/me sighs. Should I implement SMTP in the Facebook dialect of Javascript? I probably could; some psychopath (and I mean that as a compliment) deployed IPv6 over Social Networks there, and if my steel sieve of a memory serves, SMTP can be modeled with either the same computational mechanism as IPv6 or a weaker one. I expect it's feasible, but I don't expect to like it. (Besides, it'd be a hell of a way to ship out lots and lots of spam. I'm sure Facebook would appreciate that.)

So, yeah. If you want to send me a private message and actually have me read it, suck it up and send me an email.
maradydd: (Default)
We hear a lot about how society presents us with so much pressure to conform, blah blah blah. Certainly there are plenty of people out there who are obsessed with being interpreted in a particular, fairly narrow way. (I TAed for enough interchangeable blonde sorority girls to have some evidence of this.)

On the other hand, I've also noticed a fair bit of social pressure, admittedly in quite different social circles, to be as un-cliched, as un-stereotyped as possible (and not in the sense of "I want to be a nonconformist, just like all my friends!"). I've seen people abandon things they were genuinely interested in, go to great lengths to modify their behaviour, merely because they felt that they were acting in a manner that could be associated with some particular stereotype.

What's up with that? Is there a new bimodal distribution? (Well, maybe not all that new, arguably it's been around for a while, but it's certainly something I'm attuned to these days.) Is the desire to be seen as entirely unique and unstereotypical simply the mirror image of the desire to be seen as belonging to the herd?

Discuss while I go cook dinner for me and my spouse. *g* (Gluten-free veal parmigiana, if anyone was curious. We ran out of bread.)

ETA: Oh, that's why the built-in thermometer on the oven didn't seem to be working, it only works if the oven's using the bottom burner rather than the top one. And the bottom burner has been hiding under a metal tray for, uh, quite a while now.
maradydd: (Default)
I am le tired ("So take a nap. Zen fire ze missiles!"), and while I did manage to get out and acquire Red Bull for the morning, I completely spaced on acquiring catfood. I love my cats dearly, but I am just too beat to hell to summon up the energy to go out yet again. Plus, the best I could do at this hour would be Iams from the Safeway hell and gone from here; I could maybe force myself to stumble down the block and get catfood at the corner store, but it would be bad dry catfood in a small overpriced box, and I'd rather not inflict that on the beasts of the house.

[ profile] miss_education was over here helping me with some javascript foo, and we have come up with a name for the canned tuna that one feeds the cats when one is too wiped to go acquire proper catfood: the Tuna of Desperation. Well, hey, at least they like it.

And according to [ profile] miss_education, it beats the alternative that her roommate has come up with in the past: pouring a big bowl of dry kitty treats, calling her up, and telling her, "Kitty's having Doritos tonight. You might want to get some more catfood." I cannot stop laughing.
maradydd: (Default)
Looks like there's a Great Hatsby variant scraping the feed of recent LJ posts and looking for people with visible AIM screen names, then randomly initiating a connexion between two users (though, unlike Great Hatsby, it doesn't appear that the two users are sent the same initial message).

If you receive an IM from the user devourablesalmon, there is another human being on the other end who is probably rather confused. You may wish to point him/her at this post by [ profile] ericjay to explain what's going on.
maradydd: (Default)
In my Copious Free Time, I've been reading a delightful little volume from 1948, John Read's A Direct Entry to Organic Chemistry. It's a slim book, paperbound, targetted at college students -- and its style, above all else, reminds me of what a liberal education used to mean.

As an example, from the chapter on esters:
Nature comes by her ends in many ways, often to the elfin strains of a harmony so subtle that 'whilst this muddy vestore of decay doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it'. In her many variations on the esteric theme the ever-changing music soars to the sweet treble of the simple essences, and leading thence through the gay alto of the waxes sinks slowly note by note adown the rich tenor cadence of the hard fats, to swell at last into the full polyesteric diapason with the entry of the deep and melancholy basso profundo of the heavily unsaturated fish oils. Here are subtle variations on a theme which might well bring envy to a Brahms.
Okay, yes, this is one seriously tortured metaphor; I'll bet [ profile] madbard is pounding his head on his desk right now, trying to get rid of the comparison between fats and tenors or basses and fish oil. But I bring it up not because it's good art, but because it reminds me of a technique we just don't see any more. Mathematicians still get to make lofty comparisons between their work and the liberal arts, and computer scientists often compare hacking to music or painting (hi, Paul Graham), but when was the last time you read a physics essay that invoked parallelism and metaphor?

I miss synthesis in my learning. Maybe it was because I never had much of it, and what little I can recall is precious. I remember the day in my high school physics class when we started learning about power, and I realised that everything we'd done the entire semester was designed to get us to that point: distance leads to velocity leads to acceleration leads to force leads to work leads to power. Okay, that's synthesis within a discipline, not cross-disciplinary, but it's still important.

I've heard rumblings that there is a change underway in the public education system, aiming to reinstate cross-disciplinary learning as a teaching tool. Yesterday, my younger sister started a new job as a P.E. teacher at an elementary school, but she's not just teaching P.E.; her lessons are supposed to include other subjects as well, particularly math and science. If you think about it, P.E. is a great way to teach not only some important human anatomy topics, but some useful basic mathematical concepts and even the scientific method. Suppose you have the kids run for three minutes, then take and record their pulses. Then have them run for three more minutes, lather, rinse, repeat. Congratulations: you have just taught them about linear sequences and introduced the notion of a limit. For that matter, if you talk about what you're going to do beforehand and get the students to hypothesize about what will happen to their heart rates as a consequence of running, and show them how to test that hypothesis, congratulations, you're educating scientists.
maradydd: (Default)
Dear music industry,

The world did not need a techno remix of "Listen To Your Heart" complete with the original Roxette vocals, but you have given us one anyway. Why?

Yours truly,


maradydd: (Default)

September 2010

12131415 161718
26 27282930  


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags